on Integrating Technology
into Computer Science Education
Working Group 7
Perspectives on innovations in the computing curriculum
Dept. of Math and Computer Science
Beloit, WI, USA
Hempstead, New York USA
Rapid changes in computing often motivate educators to introduce
innovations in the curriculum and the classroom. The haste to do
something new or adopt some current fad can cause teachers to overlook
their adverse effects on students and the profession. The deployment
of curricular or pedagogic innovations such as new languages and
technologies may seem appropriate, but mistakes are costly. History is
the best teacher to assess the worthiness of new ideas or products. The
working group will investigate these issues, document cases where
professionals ignored history, and develop guidelines to avoid pitfalls
when making innovations in curriculum or pedagogy.
Fast-paced changes in the computing field have motivated many computing
educators to consider innovations into the curriculum. However, in the
haste to adopt an innovation one may overlook its adverse effect on
students and the profession.
Today, computing educators must wrestle with many new ideas and
technologies. This includes new programming languages, new uses of the
Internet, promoting non-traditional learning, dealing with new computer
technologies, and teaching in new classroom environments. One must
carefully avoid placing absolute credence in immature technologies or
insufficiently tested novelties. History is the best teacher to assess
the worthiness of products or innovations. Computing educators owe
their institutions and society, and most of all their students, the
professional responsibility of including only proven elements rather
than current fads in the classroom and curriculum. To err in this
instance is deleterious, fiscally unsound, ethically unjust, and harmful
to the computing profession.
The purpose of this working group is to exchange ideas on how
innovations affect, both negatively and positively, the computing
classroom and curriculum. The use of historical and background
information is paramount to the discussions so that fact can support
opinion. The working group will focus on the broad philosophical issues
of a computing curriculum and the various components that make up that
curriculum. These components include the classroom environment,
emerging technologies, language vehicles, and the syllabi of courses.
Consider the classroom environment; function follows form. All details,
from the shape and mobility of the desks to the computer-based
technologies used, are important to the learning environment. For
example, collaborative activities are often difficult in a classroom
where desks and chairs are bolted to the floor. To this end, this
working group will examine various instructional innovations that
support the pedagogic models appropriate to computer science
instruction. Augmenting a classroom with additional instructional
technology is expensive. Since mistakes are so costly, having a clear
understanding of which instructional innovation should be included in
the curriculum is very important.
The action plan for this working group is as follows.
The goal of this working group is to produce a document which will serve
as a starting point for any future discussion or project that includes
innovations in the computing curriculum. To be useful the document must
include a brief description of the various instructional innovations
available, where they have successfully improved computer science
instruction, and where they have failed to live up to their promise.
Many institutions, departments, or programs are essentially conducting
trial-and-error experiments to learn which instructional innovations are
useful to computer science educators and which changes are not. The
working group, through its published paper, will seek to act as a
vehicle to widely distribute some newly collected wisdom on this topic.
- Identify the status of the computing curriculum.
- Identify current trends and innovations that affect the computing
- Evaluate the above trends and innovations using historical facts
and research findings wherever possible.
- Cite instances or case studies that impact the computing
- Compile a list of historical facts, reports, citations, and other
related material that addresses the issues.
- Delineate the negative and positive aspects of the status and
current trends in the curriculum.
Each member of the working group is expected to research extensively a
topic of innovation before the conference itself. This research would
involve a deep familiarization with the topic, documentation of the
experiences, and a summary of its impact on the computer science
curriculum. Members should bring to the session abbreviated copies of
historical facts, reports, citations, and other material that support
the topic of the session. During the conference itself, the working
group will focus its energies toward two tasks. The first task is a
pedagogic dialog on the topics researched. This will naturally follow
as each member reports on his or her findings. Additionally, this
dialog will serve to focus the thinking of each member toward the
curriculum issues they did not research and to create a group consensus
toward each of the examined issues. The second task is an outgrowth of
the first. It is the creation of the final document described above.
Working Groups Information.
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Last modified: Wednesday February 19 14:16:49 MET 1997